- Cancer Information
- Managing side effects
- Breast prostheses and reconstruction
- Breast prostheses
- Wearing a breast prosthesis
Wearing a breast prosthesis
It may take time to get used to having a breast prosthesis. You may feel nervous about wearing it, or it may feel different depending on the weather or your clothes.
Common concerns include:
- How to control the temperature
- Clothes and swimwear
- How to adapt to clothes and use accessories
Silicone prostheses are available in different weights to accommodate a variety of needs. A standard silicone breast form is designed to be about the same weight as a natural breast. Lightweight breast forms are about 20–40% lighter than the standard form.
A prosthesis that is correctly fitted and properly supported in a bra can make you feel balanced and will usually not feel too heavy, even if it feels heavy in your hands. It may take a bit of time to get used to the weight, particularly if it has been a while since the mastectomy. Some women prefer to wear a lightweight form when playing sport or a soft form to bed.
Some women find that the prosthesis feels too hot in warm and humid weather. This is more common for women who have larger breasts. New models of breast forms are designed with air ventilation and evaporation technology to improve temperature regulation and increase comfort.
My breast form gets sweaty after I’ve been playing tennis. I have two, so after a shower I swap. — Pam
How to control the temperature
- Wear a correctly-fitting bra to hold the prosthesis in the right place and help keep you cool.
- Wear a lightweight form in warmer weather, which may keep you cooler.
- Wear clothing made with cool, comfortable material, such as linen, silk or synthetic-breathable fabrics.
- Use a bra pocket or a breast form cover with a regular bra to help absorb perspiration. Check whether your fitter supplies covers.
- Wear a bra made with fast-drying or sweat-wicking fabric, such as a sports bra. This may be more comfortable if you perspire a lot.
- Wash your prosthesis well at the end of the day to stop any perspiration from degrading the form.
Clothes and swimwear
It’s common to worry about what you can wear with a prosthesis. Many women find that they don’t need to change their clothes, but find they need to make some adjustments. For example, you may no longer feel comfortable wearing low-cut tops.
Your fitter may also stock a range of products designed specifically to be worn with a breast prosthesis. These include lingerie, sleepwear, swimwear, sports bras, activewear and camisettes (material that attaches to your bra strap to make low necklines more modest).
The range of mastectomy wear is constantly expanding and many attractive options are available.
Some women prefer to swim without their breast form, but if you swim regularly, there are advantages to buying a swim form. You may also want to wear special pocketed swimwear, which includes a bra pocket, wide straps, and higher neck and arm lines. This can be bought from your fitter, some department stores, direct from some manufacturers or online.
Australian and international brands offer a wide range of styles, patterns and colours. Popular brands include Ada, Amoena, Anita, Genevieve, Jantzen, Jets, Kay Attali, Poolproof, Sue Rice (individualised fitting), Seabird Swimwear and Seafolly.
How to adapt clothing or use accessories
- Use scarves or jewellery for extra coverage.
- Alter your clothing yourself or hire a dressmaker.
- Try a strapless pocketed bra or use an attachable prosthesis.
- Wear a camisole or singlet under a V-necked top, or buy a pocketed camisole bra.
- Reduce pressure from bra straps by using small shoulder cushions (check that it’s not a poorly-fitting bra).
- Add extra hooks on the back of the bra or buy bra extenders to make it more adjustable.
- Sew a pocket into your bra, sleepwear or swimsuit. You can find various patterns and instructions online.
A/Prof Elisabeth Elder, Specialist Breast Surgeon, Westmead Breast Cancer Institute and Clinical Associate Professor, University of Sydney, NSW; Jo Cockwill, Consumer;
Suzanne Elliott, Consumer; Bronwyn Flanagan, Breast Care Nurse, Brightways, Cabrini Hospital, VIC; Maina Gordon, Consumer; Gillian Horton, Owner and Corsetry Specialist, Colleen’s Post-Mastectomy Connection, ACT; Kerry Nash, Sales and Marketing Manager, Amoena Australia, NSW; A/Prof Kerry Sherman, Macquarie University and Westmead Breast Cancer Institute, NSW. We are grateful to Amoena Australia Pty Ltd for supplying the breast form images, which appear on pages 14 -16. The breast reconstruction images on pages 37, 45, 48, 51 have been reproduced with permission from Breast Cancer: Taking Control, breastcancertakingcontrol.com © Boycare Publishing 2010.
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